Safeguarding The Future Using Stem Cells

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


When I first got an e-mail about 'collecting stem cells to protect me in the future' I admit, I had a futuristic horror movie flowing through my mind. I wouldn't be letting anyone harvest any cells from my baby, thank you very much.

However.

I recently did a little looking into this practice as the thought of  'harvesting cells' perturbed me so much.. Only to realise all isn't what it seems in the rather pushy e-mails advertising various companies and harvesters, baby is completely separate to the said harvesting taking place and it isn't too invasive either. I know when I first had an e-mail about it, my mind immediately painted the medical professional as some leatherface-esque horror villain armed with pointy objects and vials looking to get at my newborn - but that isn't the truth at all.

What does it involve?


After birth, baby still has the cord. The umbilical cord, which he has to absorb various nutrients from you during your pregnancy - after birth, this is often taken and discarded. What the 'harvesting' companies do, is have a specially trained medical professional take the cord blood and store it for future use.
 
Some people decide to store a 4-6cm section of cord for the same reason, although this is taken after the safe delivery of the placenta - again, by a trained medical professional.

What are stem cells used for?


Currently stem cells are being used to combat certain illnesses - such as lymphoma and leukaemia although the research currently being made into this special cell is on-going and progressing each and every day.

If you'd like to know more, please feel free to watch the video below - it gave me a little more clarity about the subject. I have also stored the infographic I was sent on a page here on sheandlife.com so that readers can take it and read it at their leisure - it was a big factor in settling my misgivings about the procedures.


Beating The Winter Blues In Style This Autumn/Winter!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Winter has well and truly wrapped itself around England right now, so when I was invited to get a few pieces of clothing for Mike I knew I had to wrap him up for winter. He's actually quite a difficult person to buy for in all honesty - his go-to pieces are often practical, worn to be utilised not to just look pretty.
 
Together, we went through and picked out an outfit that he could really get to grips with, throughout the autumn/winter season.
 

 
As you can see, its a very multi purpose and versatile ensemble - perfect for winter walks, Sunday snooker practice and going out to the pub for a good old fashioned meal no matter what time of the week it is. With a little one on the way and potentially an early start to next year pushing a pram for the two of us, we knew investing in cosy, weatherproof items would be the best thing for us to do!
 
 
The knit is a Williams & Brown product, which means it doesn't break the bank but doesn't scrimp on the overall quality. It was on sale when we got hold of one, which meant for the very purse-friendly sum of £15.50 Mike has a jumper he can rely on during the winter months.
 
Another good, wearable item are the Mish Mash Ricardo Slim Fit Jeans - I'm a huge fan of dark blue denim, and despite being washed a few times these have held the colour well - usually, it starts to leak and fades really quickly which leaves me reaching for the Dylon. The denim is also quite thick but offers a little bit of stretch, meaning they aren't restrictive which some slim fit jeans invariably are.
 
We did pay £50 for the quality of these, so I'm really glad it paid off - these will be a favourite well into spring and summer, never mind the autumn/winter seasons.


My personal favourite.

The Flintoff range is a new line at Jacamo, and I probably urged Mike to get these more than I should as I'm a bit of a Freddie Fan! These are the Olive Green Chukka Boots, not made for hiking or long distances but perfect for when you need to look smart without going overboard.

I did lean towards the darker coloured pair, but on arrival these did convert me to the olive side. At £35, I'm sure we bagged a bargain as the stitching and materials used for these are incredibly high quality and made to last - even if they do need to be broken in a little to make them comfortable.




We also decided to splurge on a new winter coat. We splurged a few years ago and wore our last ones to death, so having the opportunity to pick a long-lasting, pocket friendly jacket was too good to pass up! We settled on this one, for £18 in the sale.

This Snowdonia 3-in-1 Jacket is windproof and waterproof which means no matter what the season throws at us it will do him well, especially as it has a removable fleece lining. It has a number of pockets for hiding gadgets away (phone, camera, video camera..) which are secure and waterproof, giving me peace of mind that we aren't going to lose anything when we are out and about.

The October 2017 Glossybox - Be A Unicorn In A Field Of Horses!

Monday, November 06, 2017


October is the month of ghouls and nasties... But not at Glossybox HQ. This month was the month of great debate - Unicorn or Mermaid?!
 
I decided to give my pregnant, egg-shaped Mamma self a treat and subscribed to Glossybox this month - at £10.00 a month (with £3.25 of post and packaging) I don't think its too heavy on the purse, and to be honest? I really looked forward to receiving this in the post!
 
If you've never subscribed before, basically makeup and beauty lovers can receive a box of themed goodies in the post - Glossybox boasts 4 full sized products in their boxes at least. This month as you'll see, there are five full sized products, and the overall price of the products contained are more than the subscription price each and every month. What isn't to love, right?


Emblazoned with my offering, it was pretty easy for me to suss I had been chosen to receive one of the coveted Unicorn boxes. I really liked the box, under the lid was a quote: "be a unicorn in a field of horses" and it really did make me smile. Obviously, this box is pink, red and purple toned as opposed to the greenish blue tones of the mermaid box.. But lets go inside shall we?


On opening, the box was presented in the usual Glossybox fashion - sealed with a sticker and a bow. I do like the detailed touch Glossybox do add to boxes - sometimes adding sequins or glitter depending. I was greeted by shredded blue paper this time, to protect my goodies from being mishandled during the shipping process.


First, we have the Lord and Berry Magic Brow Pencil (RRP £14) - pictured is brunette.

I love eyebrow products, I tend not to stray from my Illamasqua Brow Cake very often but I have used the Lord and Berry product a few times now. Conveniently, it is in pencil form and the tones are marbled so you can get a really natural effect.. I prefer a structured look that you can achieve with a brush easily, so the Illamasqua one still wins out for me but I find having this pencil in my bag is perfect for when I need to touch up my brows. Very handy during the winter months!


The next item is the Sleek Crème To Powder Blush in Crimson (RRP £5.99). I love Sleek blush products - I usually stick to the Suede Blush, but I have slowly come to love this new vivid shade. Used sparingly, you can build up a lovely rosy glow, and adding a little gold touch really does make it shine. Obviously, the crème based formula means this is a very vivid, highly pigmented blush that shouldn't be slapped on - take your time, otherwise you might look more like a festive elf!


The Bang Cosmetics Crème Colour in Dolce Pink (RRP $22)  is next on our list - I've used this as a bit of a highlighting accent as it really is very pink, but it prides itself on being 'multi use' as is perfect for eyes, lips and cheeks. I don't usually wear much on my eyes as I don't suit eye shadows, but I can definitely see this being a new go-to highlighter for nights out.


Now, this might not be a cosmetic item - but it's a handy one. The Kawaii Enterprise Egg Brush Cleanser (RRP £7.99) slips onto your fingers and allows you to get to grips with your grimy makeup brushes when it comes to cleaning day. Glossybox have even provided a cute little tutorial to show you how its done - no excuses to have dirty brushes now, people!


The final product, is this Makeup Revolution Redemption Palette Mermaids vs Unicorns (RRP £4). A palette absolutely bursting with colour, the colours are fairly pigmented and easy to blend. I found that some lightened a lot when it came to swatching, so you may need to work these in the pan a little before they transfer completely. Again, I can't really comment too much on these as I'm not one to use eye-shadow - if you've used this palette, what do you think?

You can see that excluding the Bang Cosmetics item (as I can't find a UK supplier!) the box totals at around £32 for the other four items.. And the only one I probably won't use is the £4 palette. I'm really impressed, and can't wait for the November box to turn up - Glossybox has restored my faith in subscription boxes!

A Night In The Company Of Wolves, With Burn The Curtain...

Thursday, November 02, 2017



In a tiny village on the edge of the mountains, a young girl puts on her red shoes and cloak, and heads into the forest alone, watched by unseen eyes.
 
As the shadows lengthen, she begins to run… Now the hunt begins.
 
Angela Carter’s classic tale has been adapted by Burn the Curtain and Shiona Morton to be a promenade theatre adventure for runners and walkers. It also includes elements of the author’s stories ‘Wolf-Alice’, ‘Peter and the Wolf ‘ and ‘The Werewolf’.
 
Join Burn the Curtain in the theatrical re-telling of this dark and mysterious modern classic. We need you to run or walk with us. To help us to sniff out those who have been born feet first, to hunt those who are hairy on the inside…


On Friday the 28th of October, I was lucky enough to have won tickets to see the Burn The Curtain Theatre Company perform at The Dream in Sutton Manor. I strongly urge you to get yourself along to a performance when they visit an area you can reach - it was a completely new experience for me and I'm still gushing about it when I mention it to people.

When myself and Gail arrived at The Dream, I actually had no idea what to expect.. The e-mail (which was completely in character!) urged us to be at the venue for 7pm so that the main event could begin at 7.30. We were actually the first ones there, but we were immediately reassured by the stewards who immediately saw our confused looks in the car park - they took control and pointed us in the right direction.
 
Now, I've been to The Dream before - albeit in the daylight, and even though I was armed with a torch I immediately lost all sense of direction when it came to navigating around the dirt pathways to the registration tent. Thankfully, the team had various people at places where the pathways split so we found ourselves registering with no huge issues. The staff who manned the tents, and those who took the time to register people were so friendly and chatty - putting us at ease even though we were in the pitch black darkness armed with only our torches for company at that point.
 
 
The area had been set up to direct two different groups around the woodland, on two different trails, following two different sections of the same story. Impressive!

At first, we were all guided up and given a brief introduction to the characters - The Priest and The Baron. From then on in, it depended on whether you had signed up to the 'Hunter' group who were running (around 4.5 miles, at a fast pace) or the 'Gatherers' (walking, around 2.5 miles).
 
We were in the Gatherer group naturally, as being 7 months pregnant.. I wasn't going to be running very far. I have to say, this group was still quite a strong pace - as children were excited to see the characters and progress the story, they set the pace and the group soon split into strong walkers and the ones who were always playing catch up. I was the latter, but I enjoyed it none-the-less - I was able to keep up with the plot and still got involved in the character interaction the actors provided.
 
 
The characters, were fantastic.
 
The costuming, the façade they kept up when dealing with 'the villagers' (..us!) and everything about the interaction they provided was done so at an incredibly professional level. I don't actually think they broke character once, which added to the magic of the whole evening.
 
At one point, we were all brought back together for refreshments which was a very welcome hot chocolate underneath the stars. I remember at one point, The Baron was going around to each group encouraging us to share information with one another as we pieced together the mystery behind the plot. Things did take a turn for the sinister then, and we found ourselves on the run!
 
I do want to make a special mention to the gentleman who walked with us, who had two huge speakers attached to his back which played various music and ambient noise when needed. I honestly felt so 'in' the production at times, Gail had to remind me to stop walking so fast! He had a habit of staying by our sides though, so it was hard not to get caught up in the soundtrack he was playing - very well played, Speaker Man!
 

The performance started at 7.30pm, and we found ourselves applauding the actors at around 10.10pm - forty minutes later than anticipated, but very worth while. As we made our way back down to the car park it was thoroughly refreshing to hear everyone buzzing about the event - talking about everything from the characters, to the setting.

I can't recommend the show more. If you get the chance to attend a production by this talented group of people, make sure it sits at the top of your priorities - you won't be disappointed.

7 Surprising Ways to Fight Off Depression

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

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When we talk about depression, it’s important to remember that depression isn’t the same as feeling a little down. You can’t just snap out of it and go back to normal. Then, within the umbrella of depression, there are also differences. Some people suffer from seasonal affective disorder and become depressed over the winter time. Others face depression as a response to something that has happened in their lives, and for some people, depression is a long-term mental health problem, that can improve and fade, but be something they always carry with them to some degree.

Depression is a serious condition which can ruin lives. So, it’s important to recognise the signs and get help as soon as you can. If you’re experiencing mood swings, finding you don’t want to get out of bed in the morning, or that you’ve lost any sense of enjoyment and passion for things you used to love, you could be suffering from something more than a low mood. Other symptoms to be aware of include changes in eating and sleeping patterns, thoughts of self-harm, loss of interest in your hobbies and constant low mood with no apparent cause.

While it’s important to know the difference between a sad mood and depression, and equally important to see your GP if you are worried, there are some things that you can try either way. Things that can improve your mood, help you feel more normal and make your days more manageable by helping you to fight off depression and depressive thoughts.

 

Take Time Off


Due to the massive taboo which surrounds depression and mental health, many of us are guilty of just trying to carry on. If you broke your leg or had the flu, you’d phone in sick and take some time out to recover. Yet, for a lot of people, the idea of telling their employer that they’ve got depression and they need some time off work to get better seems silly. It’s not. You are unwell.

A Statutory sick pay guide can explain your rights to pay while you are off work, so you don’t need to worry about money and your employer will just want you to get better so that you can get back to your best. If you do have any issues at work, speak to your HR department or get in touch with your union or an independent advisor for help. If this makes you feel anxious, ask a colleague or friend to sit in or seek out an advocacy service to help.

Exercise


Exercise can help keep you both physically and mentally fit and healthy. It gets you out of the house, gives you a chance to meet new people, boosts your confidence, helps you to sleep and can even change the chemical levels in your brain.

Even a little cardio exercise such as a fast walk or a swim releases endorphins, serotonin and adrenaline. All of which makes you feel better about yourself and improve your mood. Try to do a few stretches when you get out of bed in the morning to start your day right. This will boost your circulation, mood and confidence as soon as you get out of bed. Then, try to get outdoors for a gentle walk or jog.

Use the time to focus on your body and allow your mind to clear. See it as a little time off from your thoughts. The fresh air will also do you a world of good and help you to feel more alert and happy. If you are new to exercise or haven’t done it for a while, it’s important to start slowly, so ask your GP to help you put together a fitness plan and remember to listen to your body.

 

Eat Well


Your diet can also have a significant effect on your mental health. Getting fatty and unhealthy foods, as we often do when we’re unhappy, can leave you feeling bloated, sluggish, tired and guilty. Instead, spend some time making yourself healthy meals packed with fruits and vegetables. You’ll get a sense of pride from knowing you’ve created something that’s good for you, your body will feel better, and your mind will be more alert.

While you are making changes to your diet, cut alcohol and limit your caffeine intake. Both of which can affect your mood. Instead, drink lots of water throughout the day to help you to feel your best.

Get a Pet



Studies show that spending time with a pet can help people with anxiety, depression and other mental health issues. They are especially good for people that live alone and don’t have much contact with others. Having a pet to look after gives you something worthwhile to do and spending time cuddling and stroking them is exceptionally soothing.

Meditate

 

Like exercise, meditation is a chance to clear your mind and to allow it some time off from any worries and concerns. Even just 5 minutes of quiet meditation in the morning can help you to feel more relaxed and able to face the day.

Wallow

 
Sometimes trying to avoid your problems or running away from your bad mood can cause depression. So, spend some time productively wallowing in them. Allow yourself the time to feel sad and to dwell on what’s wrong. But, make sure it’s controlled wallowing. Set yourself a specific time frame. Tell yourself at the end of this time you need to stop.

Write


Many of us find it hard to put our thoughts and feelings into words, even in our own minds. When we’re worried about something, it can be especially hard to find a voice for our feelings. But, bottling it up can cause further distress. So, instead try writing things down. You could keep a journal or just spend some time free writing when you are feeling particularly stressed or anxious.
 
Remember there isn’t a fast fix when it comes to depression. So, try some things out to find what works for you. But, don’t convince yourself that nothing will. Take a chance and try.

Staying Healthy This Winter

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Winter is a time when our bodies change and try to store more fat. We, like many other animals go into hibernation in the winter, our bodies store much more, fat, we avoid going outside at all costs and stay in the warmth of our living rooms in our pyjamas. The problem with this is that many of us eat more in the winter, with Christmas and Thanksgiving, and if we don’t try to maintain the healthy habits we did in the summer, the pounds can pile on. Here are some great ways to stay healthy this winter!

Diet


It’s easy to overeat in the winter, because that’s exactly what our bodies want us to do. The problem is we can put on weight much easier in winter. The key is to be careful with our portions and still look to get those essentials vitamins and minerals into our bodies. Here are some warming, hearty dishes you can eat in the winter without feeling too guilty:
 

Soups:

Tomato
Ingredients:
· 1 onion
· 1 clove garlic
· 3 tins chopped tomatoes
· 1 slice bacon
· 1 tbsp missed herbs
· Fresh basil
 
Sweat your onions and garlic, fry the chopped bacon. Add tomatoes and herbs and simmer for 30 minutes. Blend until smooth and serve with bread.
 
Pea and Ham
Ingredients:
· 1 onion
· 1 bay leaf
· 450g split peas
· 250g gammon, shredded
· 2 tbsp parsley
· 750ml ham stock
· 50g butter
 
Sweat the onion, add in all ingredients apart from ham. Simmer for 30 minutes and blend. Add ham.
 

One Pot Meals:

 
Cottage Pie
Ingredients:
· 1 onion
· 500g beef mince
· 2 tbsp Tomato puree
· 330ml stout
· 2 tbsp thyme, rosemary and oregano (mix)
· 1 tbsp gravy granules
· 3 large potatoes
· 1 tbsp butter
· Salt and pepper
 
Bake the potatoes until tender and scoop out the insides. Mix with salt, pepper and butter. Sweat onion, brown the mince and add other ingredients. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add into a dish with mash on top and bake for 30 minutes.
 
Pasta Bake
Ingredients:
· 400ml marinara sauce
· 100ml water
· 6 diced sausages
· 2 diced chicken breasts
· 400g fusilli pasta
· 100g mozzarella
 
Cook the chicken breasts in a pan and brown your sausages. Place in a dish with the tomato sauce, pasta and water. Mix well and bake for 40 minutes. Add mozzarella and grill until melted.

Kick Those Bad Habits

 
Stop being a couch potato. In the winter, it is tempting to plant yourself on the sofa and stay there all day. However, the issue with sitting down all day is that you aren’t getting any exercise. And too little exercise can make the risk of developing illnesses such as diabetes higher. Try your best to stick to only 2 hours of TV at a time, and after that 2 hours, get up for 30 minutes.
 
Try to cut down on alcohol consumption. It can be easy to get carried away during the festive season and have one too many eggnogs, but it is important to remember that for the sake of your health you still want to avoid binging. If you are going out with your friends, try and stick to 2-3 drinks and don’t go overboard. You’ll save the hangover the next morning and do your liver a lot of good.
 
Stop Smoking. Planning for Christmas can be incredibly stressful and cause a lot of head scratching. It might be easy to manifest your stress into bad habits such as smoking, but this will have adverse effects on your health. Cigarettes contain a lot of toxic chemicals and cancer-causing chemicals which could make you incredibly ill. Instead, to curb your cravings you can turn to E-Cig Wizard to still get that nicotine buzz without the risk of illness.
 
 

Get Pumped Up For Exercise

 
The trick to being able to get out and exercise in winter is making a routine that you will actually stick to. You don’t want to force yourself to go out for 3 hours every night for a run and do weights at the gym, because you will never make it out of the door. Instead, stick to a couple of days a week and aim for 1 hour of exercise if you can. It doesn’t have to be too intense as long as your muscles are moving.
 
The tough approach to take is to get your gear on and simply step outside. It will be freezing cold, but as you move your muscles will warm you up. You can go on a long walk around the area or to the park with your family and make the most of the fresh winter air. You can take your camera out with you and make the most of the sights of nature and have fun with it. Getting moving can be very fun and you won’t even think you are exercising.
 
Make sure that you take safety precautions when you are out in the winter. Make sure you always have a torch and your phone in case of an emergency, and you will also need to wear bright colours if you will be outside when it’s dark. Also remember that the weather is harsh and you need to protect your body from the cold. You could run the risk of developing an illness such as frostbite or hypothermia if you aren’t sufficiently wrapped up.
 
Going for a run or a bike ride in the winter might actually be more enjoyable than in the summertime because you will warm your body up and you won’t become overheated from the sun. Just remember to have fun with it and only do what you are comfortable with.
 
If traditional exercises aren’t your thing, you can still stay fit by doing other activities. One great example of a way to keep fit at home is to practice yoga. With the stress of daily life and the anticipation of Christmas coming up, you can begin to become fatigued and burn yourself out. That’s why yoga is a great alternative which will keep you moving, strengthen your core as well as allow you to let go of your worried thoughts and reset your mind. Another fun way of keeping fit in winter is to make the most of seasonal activities. You could go ice skating on a rink in the city centre and make the most of the magic of Christmas. You could also take part in snow sports such as skiing and snowboarding- even go on a holiday with your family and friends and have a break in the alps.
 
If outdoor sport isn’t your thing, another way to keep fit whilst making new friends is to join a class. You could join a sport’s team such as hockey or football, maybe take up something different like aerial yoga, or even take a dance class. All of these things will make your experience much more enjoyable and allow you to stay fit without thinking about it.
 
You can work out while watching Christmas movies if you switch on YouTube and follow workout videos. It’s free and you won’t have to leave the house and go to the gym. You can learn at your own pace and repeat the same routines until you find that you are becoming more skilled at them.

Christmas Preparations


Believe it or not, all the Christmas preparations you will be doing throughout the next two months will also help you shed the pounds. As you tidy the house and clear out all of your old rubbish, you will be working on your arms, abs and glutes as you go. Make cleaning the house a fun task by sticking on some festive tunes and dancing around as you go, you’ll be burning those calories as well as greeting your home in tip top condition for the big day.
 
Christmas shopping can be one of the most stressful things you do during the Christmas period because the shops are full to the brim with people and you can end up coming down with a serious case of shopper’s rage. However, it’s not all bad because as you walk through the streets of your city and lug bags around you’ll be giving your arms, legs, abs and glutes some much-needed toning up in time for the big celebrations. So, skip the online shopping and get your feet moving. You can even make a day of it with your friends or family member and do some shopping, have lunch and then walk home. It will make a huge difference to your body and give you the opportunity to spend some time with your family as well as pick out the perfect gifts.
 
Finally, prepping the meal itself. Christmas dinner preparation can be a workout in itself, as you spend hours chopping vegetables, stuffing the turkey, lifting things in and out of the oven and mashing potatoes. Your arms will thank you for the muscle movement and you’ll tone up in time to scoff the perfect turkey dinner with your family.
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