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I love Easter primarily because it’s a sure sign we are moving deep into spring and leaving the cold of winter behind

Marks and Spencer

Kids Shirt €22, Kids Jumper €22, Kids Chinos €22, Kids Trainers €35, Autograph Cashmere Jumper €149.jpg

Everywhere during Easter you see new life, the world looks brighter and we can spend more time outdoors with those we love.

Marks & Spencer has been an integral part of our family since my childhood. My first memory of M&S was when I was really young in London. We used to visit my grandparents and my granny would take us there shopping. We would choose hot cross buns and butter popcorn. When we got home she always toasted the buns and smothered them in butter.

Marks and Spencer

Teapot €40, 4 Plates €40, 4 Cups and Saucers €47.50.jpg

Those memories fill my heart with love as I was very close to my grandparents. Now I have a chance to make memories with James and he also loves hot cross buns. The only difference is that now there is so much choice. Double chocolate for him and I’m sticking with the original.

We were always dressed in M&S as kids. I was dressed the same as my older sister for years and then the same as my younger sister. Luckily things have changed and now I can wear my own clothes!!

This season M&S have a beautiful range of women’s wear with their cashmere jumpers at the top of my list. This grey jumper with hearts works perfectly with comfy boyfriend style jeans. Their children’s range for boys is always smart but comfortable. This is so important for James as he’s a true boy is every sense of the word- active and adventurous.

This parka jacket is great for spring and layering underneath is key for comfort.

James Parka Easter M&S

Kids Parka €52, Kids Jumper €22, Kids Jeans €22

The green trousers below with the shirt and jumper is also very comfortable and the black converse style runners work with everything.

Marks and Spencer

Kids Shirt €22, Kids Jumper €22, Kids Chinos €22, Kids Trainers €35

Every year at my sisters we have an Easter egg hunt time and Percy pigs are always the most coveted prize. Globetrotting Percy is for the gold winner and then as Gay Byrne used to say ‘there’s a Percy meets the Easter bunny for everyone in the audience.’

Percy Pig Easter M&S

I really love dark chocolate and this year M&S have a beautiful luxurious range of eggs for adults too. There’s a large cocoa pod and then a mini dark chocolate egg with dark chocolate ganache and gold leaf.

Dark Chocolate Egg €4.50

My mum maintains that tea doesn’t taste right if it’s not in a china cup so this tea set from Marks and Spencer is perfect. When I had mum over the first things she said is “this reminds me of my mum.”

Tea Time Easter M&S

Teapot €40, 4 Plates €40, 4 Cups and Saucers €47.50

Easter is an opportunity for us to make more memories and smile at old ones too. We have a running joke in our house that my brother in law makes the best Sunday roast but we know his secret trick – the rotisserie chicken from M&S.


marks and spencer

Autograph Cashmere Jumper €149, M&S Collection Jeans €34, Kid Jumper €22, Kids Jeans €22.jpeg

After a great day James and I love to cuddle on the couch. I hope he never gets too big for a cuddle. For now, I’ll just appreciate the ones I have and this Easter I look forward to treating my visitors to tea, chats and hot cross buns and maybe one day they’ll look back and remember these times with fondness too.

For all product shown here check out marks&spencer.ie

You can also follow them on:

Facebook www.facebook.com/MarksandSpencerIreland/

Instagram – @mandsireland

Twitter – @mandsireland

An Alternative Way to Support Children and Families this Christmas

This year Barnardos children’s charity is not asking for toys – but for donations to allow the organisation provide more practical gifts for the families they work with. Barnardos ‘Gifts for Good’ are an alternative gift for family or friends this Christmas.

By purchasing a ‘Gift for Good’ on behalf of a loved one in lieu of a present, you are both directly benefiting a child or family Barnardos works with – and your loved one will receive a card that shows the importance and impact of that support.

Barnardos ‘Gifts for Good’:

  1. PJs, bed socks and slippers – to provide warmth and wellbeing.
  2. Food Voucher – to feed children & their potential.
  3. Filled Soap bag for a family – for health and independence.
  4. Books – providing a new chapter of opportunity.
  5. Duvet, Pillow & Covers – to cover a good night’s sleep.


Each ‘Gift for Good’ that is purchased this Christmas will go directly to one of the thousands of children and families Barnardos’ works with all year round. Each family has different needs to the next – your donation will allow the organisation to direct your help how each need it most.

How much does it/they cost?

  1. PJs, bed socks and slippers €18

With this gift you could provide the comfort and cosiness of warm pyjamas and keep tiny toes toasty warm at night. This gift will help keep children warm giving them a better chance to stay healthy and thrive.


  1. Food Voucher  €25

With this gift you could provide lunches to children in our early year’s programme, or you could provide breakfasts to children in our services, setting them up with a warm full tummy ready for a day of learning at school. This gift will give a child the best start to the day (and to their young lives!)


  1. Filled Soap bag for a family €28

With this gift, you could help provide essential toiletries like a toothbrush, toothpaste, facecloth, sponge, soap, shampoo, brush and comb that many families in our services are not in a position to provide or regularly replace.


  1. Books €35

With this gift you could help support work in our amazing early years’ programme, which includes encouragement of language development among pre-schoolers through dialogic reading. This gift will open a new chapter in life for young children who need a little extra help to bring their development up to par with their peers so that they are ready to start mainstream school.


  1. Duvet, Pillow & Covers €50  

With this gift you could help create a comfortable and warm place for a child to get the rest they need at night. In winter months especially, some of the families we work with may not be in a position to heat their homes. With this gift you will help a child get a good, warm and comfortable night’s sleep, which is key to their learning and behaviour.

You can buy Barnardos ‘Gifts for Good’ today at https://shop.barnardos.ie/ or by calling 01 7080 429 to place your order. For each ‘Gift for Good’ you buy, you’ll be sent an individual card with envelope to pass on to a loved one in lieu of presents this year.

Lets raise awareness of the amount of plastic in our lives by encouraging people to eliminate the use of single-use plastic. We have put a list of tips together that will make this easy.

This article was first published on thebamboobrushsociety.com


When you’re out of the house, you sometimes make a spontaneous trip to the supermarket without bringing a grocery bag. Here’s what you do! Always have a bag in your work bag, car, or other vehicle you drive. Maybe also leave a few at the office! This way you don’t end up buying another bag.

Plastic bottle floating ocean
Let’s start with some scary facts: 53 billion gallons of bottled water are consumed globally. Only 1 out of 5 bottles is recycled. 40% of all bottled water is taken from municipal water sources. Bottled water costs up to 10.000 times more than tap water. Not convinced yet? Carrying around your own water bottle is very trendy these days! These are some of the brands we love; Mizu,  Klean Kantene and Dopper.


In case you’re running a restaurant, first have a look at alternatives like PLA straws. Maybe don’t give out straws at all. For consumers: ask the waiter to serve your drink without a straw. It’s that easy! In case you really like a straw here are some cool ones; glas straws from Simply straw and paper straws from Aardvark straws.


Coffee cups are hard to recycle. Bring your own coffee cup, some baristas may even give you a little discount. And please take your cup like you most enjoy your sunbathing: topless. Do you really need that plastic lid?


Špeceraj, Zero Waste shop in Croatia

A lot of cities now have zero waste stores. But there are other alternatives to ‘regular’ supermarkets that use plastic packaging for almost all of their products:
a. Choose bread sold in a paper bag or no bag at all. Or get one these cool bags from Bag Again.
b. Return fruit and veggie containers to the store to be reused.
c. Bring your own containers to the store.

Did you know almost all chewing gum is made from plastic? That’s right. When you’re chewing gum, you’re chewing on plastic.

Use a razor with replaceable blades instead of a disposable razor.

Plastic lighters are made from heavy plastic and can travel around the world for years and years. Go back to matches or buy an oldschool lighter that you can pass on to the next generation.

Beeswrap; a great alternative for the plastic wrap.

Who doesn’t love homemade, unprocessed food? So why cover it in a plastic wrap?! Especially when you know the chemicals from the plastic can end up in your food. Using glass storage containers is the way to go here. Or check out Bee’s Wrap sustainable food storage.


So many new products are made from synthetic materials: polyester, acrylic, lycra, spandex, nylon. In other words, plastic. Please check before you buy; there are so many cool brands that care about the stuff they use. And maybe you can buy a little less as well.

Congrats you made it to the end of the page. Bonus tip: Plastic toothbrush replace with a bamboo one ;-)

Research has shown that making changes in your diet, lifestyle and reducing exposure to toxins can boost fertility for both you and your partner and also reduce the risk of miscarriage. 

Three months is the optimum period of time for these changes to take effect because it takes approximately three months for the follicles on the ovaries to develop before one is mature enough to release an egg at ovulation. Although as a woman you cannot change the number of eggs you have (ovarian reserve), you can certainly change their quality and this is the important point. By improving the quality of your eggs, you are increasing your chances of conceiving naturally and also preventing a miscarriage. If you are going for an assisted conception technique, like IUI, IVF or ICSI, you will also want your eggs to be as healthy as possible so as to give the technique the best chance of success.

Many women I see in the clinic are told that they have ‘old’ eggs and that there is nothing wrong with the IVF technology, the problem is with them.  That is devastating terminology and it is true that the eggs in a woman of 35 are older than when she was 20 but as long as she is ovulating it is possible to change the quality of those eggs to either give her the chance of conceiving naturally or achieving success on an IVF cycle with her own eggs. 

With men, it also takes at least three months for a new batch of sperm cells to mature, ready to be ejaculated. Men produce sperm all their lives so it is always possible to not only improve the quality but also the quantity of sperm by making certain lifestyle and nutritional changes. 

Although it goes without saying that a healthy diet is crucial to a successful pregnancy and a healthy baby, many people are unaware of the fact that what you eat may affect your ability to conceive.   Also you want to avoid the three main fertility busters; caffeine, alcohol and smoking as they have all been linked to an increased risk of infertility in men and women.

Having four cups of coffee or any caffeinated drink a day makes it 26% less likely that a woman will conceive and drinking only 2 cups of coffee a day is associated with a 25% increased risk of miscarriage. And problems with sperm health are connected with increased coffee intake.

Alcohol will also make it more difficult to get pregnant with only just three alcoholic drinks or more a week. The same is true for male fertility and alcohol will also block the body’s ability to absorb fertility boosting nutrients like zinc.

A woman is twice as likely to get pregnant if she doesn’t smoke compared to a woman who does. And smoking is linked to 5,000 miscarriages per year.

Chemicals in tobacco smoke can damage DNA in sperm which can make it harder to conceive because fertilisation can’t take place or if it is does, it can increase the risk of a miscarriage as nature will always work on survival of the fittest.   

Stress for both the man and woman can affect fertility and this needs to be addressed.

If a couple has a combination of four negative lifestyle factors (including tea/coffee, smoking and alcohol) it can take them seven times longer to get pregnant.

As well as looking at what you eat and drink there is now a great deal of scientific knowledge about the use of nutritional supplements and their beneficial effects on both male and female fertility.   The most important nutrients for fertility are zinc, folic acid, selenium, vitamin E, vitamin D, vitamin C, omega 3 fatty acids for you and your partner plus two amino acids, arginine and carnitine specifically for boosting male fertility.  In my clinics we test for nutritional deficiencies and supplement to correct those deficiencies where necessary.  I also use NHP’s Fertility Support for Women and Fertility Support for Men available from good health food shops.

The aim is also to make sure you are a healthy weight.  Women are most fertile when they are neither too thin nor too heavy. You need at least 18% body fat to ovulate and the best chance of conceiving is when 20-25% of the body mass is fat tissue. On the other hand, the menstrual cycle can be disrupted by too much fat, which affects oestrogen levels. Being 25% over your ideal weight can stop ovulation. It’s important for the man to keep his eye on his weight too as there is an increased risk of infertility or poor sperm quality and quantity in men who are overweight or obese.

Don’t miss this opportunity to come and see Dr Marilyn Glenville PhD, the UK’s leading nutritionist specialising in women’s health. You will find out how to use food, vitamins and minerals to increase your energy, eliminate mood swings, improve your memory, reduce stress and lose weight without dieting.

Dr Marilyn Glenville will be visiting Ireland from October 24th to 26th in Dublin, Galway & Cork.

For more information please visit: https://balanceyourhormonesnaturally.eventbrite.ie   

Dr Marilyn Glenville PhD is the UK’s leading nutritionist specialising in women’s health.  She is the Former President of the Food and Health Forum at the Royal Society of Medicine and the author of a number of internationally bestselling books including Getting Pregnant Faster.  Dr Glenville runs clinics in Dublin, Galway, Cork and Kilkenny, for more information see www.glenvillenutrition.ie.

My desk is literally surrounded by Louise Hay books. Even the thought of her puts a smile on my face. When I think of authentic selfcare I think of Louise Hay.

Louise Hay’s compassion and understanding of the human condition enabled her to communicate a message of change and open the hearts of many who felt alone and forgotten.

Her movie You Can Heal Your Life inspired me to take control of my own emotional, spiritual, and professional life. Through her own journey she inspired hope in others.

Today she transitioned at 90 years of ago and according to her Facebook Page she died peacefully surrounded by loved ones.

Her light will keep shining bright as Hay House continues to inspire thousands worldwide.

Here is the message to her fans on her Facebook page

louise hay quotes, louise hay passes away august 30th“Our beloved friend and founder Louise Hay transitioned this morning, August 30, 2017, of natural causes at age 90. She passed peacefully surrounded by loved ones.

Louise was an incredible visionary and advocate. Everyone who had the privilege to meet her, either in person, or through her words, felt her passion for serving others.

“Meeting Louise changed the direction of my life,” said Reid Tracy, President and CEO of Hay House, Inc. “Her passion for serving others translated into everything she did. Simply by working alongside her, an analytical accountant like me transformed into someone who became aware of the power of affirmations and self-love. Being able to learn from her has been one of my life’s greatest blessings. The beauty of Louise was that you didn’t have to work alongside her to learn from her, you felt like you were there with her, with every word you read or heard.”

Hay House will carry on Louise’s legacy and continue to publish products and online learning courses that align with her message of self-improvement and self-love.

Louise Hay’s estate, as well as all future royalties, will be donated to The Hay Foundation, a non-profit organization established by Louise that financially supports diverse organizations which supply food, shelter, counseling, hospice care and funds to those in need.

We invite you to share your Louise stories with us in the comments below. Together, we honor her through our memories and the continuing of her unforgettable legacy.

We love you, LuLu.

In the infinity of life where I am, all is perfect, whole, and complete. – Louise L. Hay

Read more at http://www.hayhouse.com/louise-hay-legacy

louise hay quotes, louise hay passes away august 30thWe need Louise’s work now more than ever and we trust she will still be working from where she is. RIP to the true pioneer of selfhelp

My first book Minding Mum is all about understanding that self-care is not selfish in fact it’s probably the most selfless thing you can do.

I learnt this lesson the hard way after I had my son James who is now just nearly six. I completely neglected my own needs post birth and was certainly not Minding Mum. I pushed myself way too hard, didn’t eat properly and it came at a huge cost to both myself and my son as I became very ill with postnatal depression. What I have realized the past seven years on my wellness journey is that if our own tank is empty we have no strength and energy to give to others.

Minding mum, book, author, be complete, family, parenting, mums, gill books, self care


Once I started to value myself enough to eat well, exercise, talk kindly to myself and practice daily happiness habits I began to understand the power of self care. I learnt what it truly means not only for ourselves but for those we love.

I now have more time (believe it or not), patience, energy and vitality for James since Minding Mum. Practicing self-care does not mean you are shirking your responsibilities. In fact as a parent there is no better way to instill confidence and self-esteem into your kids than to be a healthy and happy role model.

I know the first thing mums say is that they have no time for Minding Mum and since they have had their children they can’t even go to the bathroom alone anymore. The only time I have had a shower alone without 20 questions is when I’m away.

I was an impossibly stubborn Mum and thought this too. However when I was unwell I found it incredibly difficult to get dressed most days and knew something had to change. There is real power in self care and even more power in taking small steps to get there.


Rome wasn’t built in a day and sometimes we need to relearn or learn in my case to like ourselves and value ourselves. The small changes I have made over the past few years have led me on a path of true wellness. Not only that I have discovered the true contentment I have always craved but never been able to find. After I had James I stopped placing my worth in external things like property, boyfriends and job status but I started to look within and face my fears.

It’s been a rocky road and some days I’ve felt brave and others scared but every day I have been giving life my best shot. I am now living an anxiety and depression free life, which is something I never thought, would be possible. I have daily happiness habits and if you scroll through Facebook for 10 minutes you can do this too.



Say thank you every morning as you wake and keep a gratitude diary. This should take no more than 3 minutes each day. Recent research from Harvard happiness researcher and author Shawn Achor says that if you pick 3 different things each day that you are grateful for not only does it help your optimism but also it actually rewires our brain. This is one of the most powerful tools I use daily and this habit helped to drag me out of some dark times. Sometimes we can become too focused on what is going wrong and miss everything that is going right!

Minding mum, gratitude, book, author, be complete, family, parenting, mums, gill books, self care


We’re all different which is the beauty of life and what’s works for one will not work for another so have fun and find a formula that works for you. In life we tend to focus on just one area at a time like diet or exercise but what I have found is that a little of everything is better than a lot of one thing to help you find that balance. (PG 23 in my book)

Minding mum, gratitude, book, author, be complete, family, parenting, mums, gill books, self care3. EAT REAL FOOD

We’ve made food very complicated and there are thousands of diets out there now. My advice is keeping it simple so eat fresh wholefoods. Remove the word diet for your life, as they simply don’t work! Steer clear of processed foods and ease up on sugar. Stay on the outskirts of the supermarkets (usually where fresh produce is) cook and freeze for the week if you are short on time and try to eat a variety of colour.

Minding mum, gratitude, book, author, be complete, family, parenting, mums, liz cook charts, gill books, self care


You will never realise how bad you feel until you start to feel good, and hydration or dehydration can be the cause of so many illnesses [so too much hydration could make you sick too?]. For the past fifteen years I have started my day with lemon water. It all started at a photo-shoot one day, when my skin was bad as I suffered with adult acne. A make-up artist told me that drinking warm lemon water every morning would help. It is something that I have done ever since and since studying nutrition I have come to realise that the benefits are far greater than I could have ever imagined.

So my first tip for hydration is to wake up your body with a glass of warm water and lemon each day. This will kick start your digestive system and metabolism. It’s small changes like this that will make a massive difference to your health. Just think of how dehydrated you are after a night’s sleep. Does it not make sense to drink fluids first before putting more food in? When I take a break from drinking warm lemon water in the morning I really notice the difference in how efficient my digestive system is and I also notice a difference in my energy levels.

Minding mum, gratitude, book, author, be complete, family, parenting, mums, gill books, self care


Lemons are great because they contain bioflavonoids, potassium and Vitamin C. Bioflavonoids are super antioxidants that contribute to good heart health and have powerful anti-carcinogens. Potassium stimulates the brain as well as helping keep your blood pressure under control and the antioxidants from the Vitamin C will really help your skin (healing, especially after a C-section). Vitamin C is required to produce collagen, a protein that plays a critical role in the structure of our bodies. Collagen is the framework for our skin and our bones and without it, we would quite literally fall apart. Vitamin C also aids the absorption of iron and if you live in a big city just look at Vitamin C as a giant fire extinguisher for all the pollution and nasty toxins out there.

TOP TIP: Get more water into your day by keeping a bottle with you all the time and by drinking herbal teas (caffeine is a diuretic). Eat your water by including water-rich fruits and vegetables in your diet, like cucumber and watermelon.


This sounds easy but some of us are in a pattern of consistent negative thinking without even realizing it and it’s a habit that we can break with practice. I use my STOP- CATCH – CHANGE formula which is Stop your negative thought, catch it and change it to a positive one. This might seem unnatural and hard in the beginning but it becomes easier with time. I use it to catch negative thoughts about myself, others, work and life in general. Building good self-esteem means appreciating yourself and treating yourself with compassion.


Fitness is meant to be fun and if it’s not for you then try something new. Life is hard enough without dreading our exercise class or the gym. There are 100’s of options to keep moving and keep fit. I get bored so I switch it up all the time from yoga to Pilates and the gym. You need to feel good about what you are doing as our body, mind and spirit are all connected.


Keep it simple and keep it real. Make up should be used to highlight your features and I’m definitely a “less is more” girl. From a health perspective I have also started to use more natural and paraben free products after all, a lot of the chemicals in our beauty products are absorbed by our skin and enter into our bloodstream.

When I was recovering from depression and anxiety I started to understand that the products we use disrupt our endocrine system and our hormones, which is all related to mental health. (CouleurCaramel.ie and Phyts are great brands) Try switching up your deodorants to a more natural alternative too. It’s the cumulative effect of all the products that causes the problems as our bodies are actually very good at detoxing naturally but they just can’t cope with being overloaded with environmental toxins, product toxins, bad food and a bad lifestyle!

Minding mum, gratitude, book, author, be complete, family, parenting, mums, gill books, self care



I have suffered from adult acne so my rule with my pillow is


So you sleep on one side, then turn it over the following night and sleep on the opposite side, and then wash it. It’s simple and effective.


Stress is our biggest killer these days and using mindfulness and meditation can help. Its simple, if you can breathe you can meditate. Our breath is our most powerful asset yet it is the most underused resource we have and its free and available all the time. As a busy mum you can feel overwhelmed quite often and very often just taking a moment to stop and breathe can make all the difference.

Stop, breathe and be

 Minding mum, gratitude, book, author, be complete, family, parenting, mums, gill books, self care



I have one rule and that’s always try and be there for another mum who needs you. All mums are working mums whether you stay at home or go out to work. There is no ideal situation as each one of us are completely different. To create a good work/life balance you need to do what’s right for you. There is a full chapter on PND (post natal depression) in the book, which is honest and offers great tips on asking for help and helping yourself!

Minding mum, gratitude, book, author, be complete, family, parenting, mums, gill books, self care

There are many more tips in my book ‘Minding Mum’ which you can buy here which you can buy here.

LynnS DREams, LYNNS, poem, lauralynn childrens hospice, fairycares, fairy non-bio, fairy non bio campaign, hospice, children's pallative care, childrens charityI have teamed up with Fairy Non-Bio who will be donating to LauraLynn Children’s Hospice from every pack of Fairy Non-Bio Pods and Fairy Non-Bio Fabric Softener sold between now and July 12th. Fairy Non-Bio have committed to make a minimum donation of €25,000 to LauraLynn later this summer.


Each day when we wake we never know what encounters lie ahead. That’s the true beauty of life.

A few weeks ago during my lunch break from college I headed up to LauraLynn to do an interview for Xpose and support them for Children’s Hospice Week.

LynnS DREams, LYNNS, poem, lauralynn childrens hospice, fairycares, fairy non-bio, fairy non bio campaign, hospice, children's pallative care, children's charity

I met a young Mum Sam while I was waiting and she introduced me to her beautiful daughter Isabella. As I watched Sam with Isabella I was struck by her energy and how gentle, patient and compassionate she was. As a mum myself I learnt so much from being with her that day and as I sat in the car afterwards I realised that it was Sam’s presence with her daughter that made it so magical.


Isabella has a rare neurological disorder and Sam is her full time carer. She also has a son called Alex who is a few years older than Isabella. During the first year of Isabella’s life she was admitted to hospital regularly for seizures. She did not sleep at night and Sam sat by her side watching her just in case anything happened. Bevan, who now works at LauraLynn, was their outreach nurse at the time and he introduced them to LauraLynn recognizing that they couldn’t keep going the way they were.

LynnS DREams, LYNNS, poem, lauralynn childrens hospice, fairycares, fairy non-bio, fairy non bio campaign, hospice, children's pallative care, childrens charityTHEIR FIRST VISIT

They went out to meet the team expecting it to be very clinical and hospital like and were delighted when it was absolutely nothing like that. LauraLynn has a very homely and welcoming atmosphere. Most importantly Sam knows Isabella’s happy there and she always has a smile on her face when she thinks of LauraLynn now.


Isabella was able to stay at LauraLynn for Alex’s first day of school, which meant Sam could focus on Alex and this made him feel special. Sam admits it was hard in the beginning and she would cry and constantly ring checking in on Isabella but she knew she was running on empty and needed a break.



Sam and her family get 15 nights overnight care per year. There’s also a range of therapeutic and family support interventions if she feels they need them. Sam admits the respite can be daunting but necessary otherwise they simply can’t function properly. LauraLynn also offer support in the form of a community for families. Some of the children in school with Isabella also attend LauraLynn and to help support each other Sam set up a private Facebook group for “Extra Special Mums”. She said she can go out with special need’s mums and be herself and laugh at silly things with friends in the same situation.


Having a child with special needs in Ireland comes with great difficulties, as you have to fight for absolutely everything. You really have to shout and that’s hard especially when you are so tired. Isabella’s medical card was taken off her a few years ago and it put a lot of stress on the family. LauraLynn were incredible during this time and eventually Sam and her family fought and got the card back. You will hear these stories the length and breadth of Ireland as our most vulnerable amongst us suffer.



Isabella took part in the first LauraLynn Oscars that took place last year. Each child made a movie with the help of industry professionals and Isabella’s brother Alex even had his school involved and they all attended the Oscar’s evening to receive their award.


Isabella also performed in a play in the Abbey Theatre and there are family and sibling camps too. All of these events and activities help to make special memories and fulfill these dreams for families.

LynnS DREams, LYNNS, poem, lauralynn childrens hospice, fairycares, fairy non-bio, fairy non bio campaign, hospice, children's pallative care, villena family, childrens charity

Having LauraLynn is a very important part of the Villena’s lives. The charity does so much with and for the children and their families. This essential service is free for all families giving them both relief and respite even if it’s just for a short time.


Sam shifted something in me the day I met her. She really touched my heart and for that I will always be grateful. Never underestimate the power one person can have on another. After all we are all in this game of life together.


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Sponsored by

The baby box, baby gifts, parenting, new mum, unicef, first crib, newborn, pregnancy, gift ideas, baby shower


The Baby Box is one of the most well thought out gifts for a new mum.

My sister is a new mum and got very excited when she saw it exclaiming, “This is exactly what every new mum needs!”

The idea behind the Baby Box is based on Finnish tradition. The Baby Box not only provides essentials for baby’s first few months of life, the box itself is designed to be the baby’s first crib.

In Finland every new mum receives some kind of maternity grant. They can either choose between a cash grant or a maternity package containing good quality clothing and baby care products. Two thirds of women opt for ‘The Baby Box” as I would too.

The Baby Box was actually designed in 1937 to give all children a more equal start to life, and it continues to serve this purpose today. Finland’s child mortality rate is among the lowest in the world, partly thanks to the maternity grant and associated health checks.



The baby box, baby gifts, parenting, new mum, unicef, first crib, newborn, pregnancy, gift ideas, baby shower

Parents can use The Baby Box as their first crib or as a second back-up one for the sitting room. For example: I used to carry the moses basket up and down the stairs each day along with the stand or else I would use the pram for James to sleep in downstairs. This solves that problem as it can be left downstairs! The simple, effective design of the box, coupled with its firm mattress, also helps to promote safe sleeping, which is important too.

When the baby has outgrown the Box it can be used as a keepsake box to have forever. Those first little shoes, the teeny tiny first vest and the first haircut! As you child grows the baby box can grow with your memories too.



As well as their range of Custom Designed Baby Boxes, The Baby Box also sell various Newborn Gift Sets of clothing and accessories starting at just €25. Check out all their gift ideas here 

The baby box, baby gifts, parenting, new mum, unicef, first crib, newborn, pregnancy, gift ideas, baby showerOne of my favourite gifts is the The Muslin Swaddle Gift Box €25 (link here). Each Gift Box includes two 100% Cotton Extra Large Muslin Swaddles which are ideal for swaddling a newborn, nursing, or covering a stroller when baby drifts off to sleep.

The first box for Spring/Summer 2017 is the The Original Baby Box (RRP €125)

The baby box, baby gifts, parenting, new mum, unicef, first crib, newborn, pregnancy, gift ideas, baby shower1 x Baby Box 1 x Mattress 1 x Machine Washable Breathable Mattress Cover 1 x 100% Cotton Fitted Sheet 1 x 100% Cotton Extra Large Muslin Swaddle (120cm x 120cm) 1 x Soft Toy 2 x 100% Cotton Baby Vests 1 x 100% Cotton Baby Sleep Suit 1 x 100% Cotton Hat 1 x 100% Cotton Bib 1 x Luxury Blanket 1 x Pack of Nappies 1 x Jar of Nappy Cream 1 x Pack of Water Wipes 1 x Bag of Cotton Squares FREE Delivery in Ireland & UK


The 2nd option is The Ultimate Baby Box (RRP €250)

The baby box, baby gifts, parenting, new mum, unicef, first crib, newborn, pregnancy, gift ideas, baby shower

1 x Baby Box 1 x Mattress 1 x Machine Washable Breathable Mattress Cover 1 x 100% Cotton Fitted Sheet 2 x 100% Cotton Extra Large Muslin Swaddles (120cm x 120cm) 1 x Soft Toy 3 x 100% Cotton Baby Vests 2 x 100% Cotton Baby Sleep Suit 2 x 100% Cotton Hat 2 x 100% Cotton Bib 1 x 100% Cotton Luxury Blanket 1 x Baby Health & Grooming Kit

1 x 100% Cotton Luxury Bath Robe 1 x 100% Cotton Hooded Towel 1 x Burt’s Bees Baby Shampoo 1 x Burt’s Bees Baby Lotion 1 x Burt’s Bees Nourishing Baby Oil 1 x Burt’s Bees Diaper Ointment 1 x Burt’s Bees Butter Milk Soap 1 x Changing Pad 2 x Soothers 1 x Pack of Nappies 1 x Jar of Nappy Cream 1 x Pack of Water Wipes 1 x Bag of Cotton Squares FREE Delivery in Ireland & UK

There are many more options in between like The Bed Box and The Deluxe Baby Box


As safety is of primary importance to any new parent every single one of The Baby Box products undergoes rigorous safety testing.

The Baby Box conforms to BS EN 1130, the International Gold Standard for Crib & Cradle Safety. The Baby Box is the only Finnish Baby Box on the market that meets this standard. Their mattresses also conform to BS EN 1877 for Safety and BS EN 7177 for flammability. Read their safety and sleep tips here


In The developing world a child dies every 20 seconds from a preventable disease.

 The Baby Box works closely with UNICEF worldwide to help prevent these unnecessary deaths. For every Baby Box sold 10 vaccination kits are distributed to the Third World. Each one of these vaccination kits ensures that children are protected against Measles, Polio and Tetanus. To date The Baby Box has protected over 5,000 children from these potentially fatal diseases.

The Baby Box believe that all babies should be given an equal start in life regardless of where they are born.



For any new Mum this is a dream gift. It contains everything a new mum needs in those early days. I truly believe anything that can help relieve some stress from new mums is really important. It’s the perfect gift where all mums friends can chip in and help to give the bay the best start alongside creating memories and helping children less fortunate get a better start in life too.


#ad #spon

For this weeks Wellness Wednesday I’m chatting to Jennifer Rock AKA The Skin Nerd. I love Jen, her energy and enthusiasm for all things skin related is infectious.

I first met her when we shot some videos for Yonka about a year and a half ago (you can see them here) and have been an avid fan ever since. Her approach to skincare is refreshing, knowledgeable and honest.

But I wanted to know a little more, like how does she balance work and play and what her favourite foods are? You are going to love her answers as they prove her honesty is more than just skin deep….

  1. How would you describe your lifestyle?

At present quite hectic. I just recently switched from being employed to self-employed, which is very different. I rebranded my product, hired nerds for my team and I also have a new business launching in the summer.

In the last quarter of this year I am launching some new products so it is busy!

As much as I love being busy and my brain to buzz and pivot, I have been ill of late and the unexpected time in a hospital bed has allowed me to place a lot in perspective. The past few weeks have highlighted key factors that have to change for me both personally and within my family.


  1. What’s your favorite food? Naughty or nice.

Nice – Well I adore salmon, quinoa, spinach with balsamic vinegar with a few sweet potatoes and ketchup – do the tomatoes count as healthy Alison?

I have a very black and white approach towards food. It really a case of all or nothing in the health department! I wish that wasn’t the case but I cannot lie to you!

My guilty pleasure is ice cream – with raspberry sauce, flakes and ferrero rocher sauce. I love visiting scrumdiddly’s in Donabate and Dun Laoghaire. It’s simply heaven!

THE SKIN NERD, Scrumdiddly's, WELLNESS WEDNESDAY, CLEANSE OFF MITT, THE SKIN NERD, lifestyle quiz, no more wipes, balance, health, wellness, becomplete, alison canavan

  1. Do you exercise and if so what do you do to keep fit?

 Unfortunately at present I am housebound and so exercise is not allowed for 4 more weeks. It is ironic how much I want to do it now that I cannot. To be honest it had been lacking due to my work /life balance pre operation as well. I used to be a gym bunny but during the transition from employee to self-employed I was working 19-20 hours a day for the best part of 8 months – exercise simply did not happen. I lost the physical mojo, gained three stone and have not returned since.


  1. How do you find balance in your day-to-day life?

I have to have me time or I am highly irritable! No phone, no TV, just time to chill and think, take a walk on the beach or sit out the back door with my shoes off for 10 minutes. It’s these small moments that count. I physically crave fresh air and time out. If I do that I am productive and nice again! I ALWAYS NEED MY SHOES OFF, ALWAYS! Unless of course I’m at a work event!


  1. How do you manage stress in your life? Do you meditate? Have you ever tried it?

We did meditation in school when I was younger. An ex partner of mine was hugely involved in mindfulness, yoga and self-appreciation yet it was lost on me at that stage of my life in my twenties. It is an area I have started to read up on now. I try to not think, allow my brain to rest and I believe it is a skill I will become better at, however I try not to over think it and just be! For me there is something hugely medicinal when watching and listening to the waves – that’s my downtime!


  1. People often set goals or intentions as they go through life. Is this something you do?

Yes I live by goals and challenges however they change regularly and I do not stress myself out by watching the dates pass and the target is not reached- unless it is work! I am 32 and used to so desperately want to be married by 28. Now that 28 has passed and two partners later I realize that I am happier single right now than when I was either relationship. This is by no means a reflection of the relationships but rather my own mental space. My mam used to always say ‘you cannot love someone until you love yourself’ I thought she was wrong, in fact she was wrong as I loved both my partners immensely and with every part of my being (as I do with all I give attention to – son and career included) BUT if you do not know yourself, your true self, you become lost in a couple. That is my personal musings!


  1. How do you unwind after a busy day?

Time with my son Matt; once he walks in the door I automatically change. That email I HAD to reply to suddenly takes a back seat till he’s at soccer hours later! I try to be with him not serve him or talk at him. Easier said than done while trying to do the chores while he sits looking at me!!


THE SKIN NERD, Scrumdiddly's, WELLNESS WEDNESDAY, CLEANSE OFF MITT, THE SKIN NERD, lifestyle quiz, no more wipes, balance, health, wellness, becomplete, alison canavan

  1. It’s the weekend, what do you do for fun?

Walks on the beach are a must, watching Matt play soccer, as it’s his passion. I love to read, potter and visit friends. My home is the home many come to and I love the open door attitude we have. Matt’s friends typically stay over on a Saturday night and we have big breakfasts on a Sunday with teenage kids “go Leor”. Memory making days are what I like to call them! Essentially I mortify my son just by being me!


  1. What’s your top health tip for our readers?

Be yourself, stop trying to struggle and juggle all while trying to please other people. Say NO. Learn your boundaries, be proud of you and don’t change for anyone. People are so happy to criticize others, so don’t get sucked in. The negative energy will affect you more than anyone else! What you put out is what you get back so move on, breath and live! Or as I say ‘be alive..don’t just live’


  1. Finish the sentence – Being complete for me means…

Having my health, my son Matthew’s health, planning holidays, laughing out loud regularly and being somewhat content with where I am rather than dreaming aimlessly about where I’d like to be.

Is this always the case? No, but this is what I aim for and know to be my truth. I spent all my life wanting what was next, the next goal and challenge but have since realized that NOW is the reality and all we really have.

Check out Jennifer’s award winning cleanse off mitt 

THE SKIN NERD, WELLNESS WEDNESDAY, CLEANSE OFF MITT, THE SKIN NERD, lifestyle quiz, no more wipes, balance, health, wellness, becomplete, alison canavan*******************************************************************************************************************************

Jennifer Rock is a keen skin enthusiast, a multi-award winning aesthetician, dermal facialist and international skin lecturer in the USA, London, Paris, Melbourne, Glasgow, and Dublin, and for brands and professional bodies such as ITECX and CIDESCO.

She’s attended skin conferences around the world with plastic surgeons, aesthetic doctors, dieticians, nutritionists, and nurses. She’s had the pleasure of lecturing alongside luminaries such as IMAGE Skincare certified plastic surgeon Dr Marc Ronert and the co-creator of London Harley Street Medical Hospital Dr Ahmar Khan, to name a few.

She’s been seen in U Magazine, Irish Country Magazine, Xposé, IMAGE Magazine, Sunday Business Post, Sunday Independent, Woman’s Way, Professional Beauty Magazine, BABTAC and The Irish Times, and as heard on 4fM, Today FM, Q102 and Sunshine Radio. She has her own website, the skinnerd.ie, filled with a panel of industry experts, dedicated to teaching her followers unbiased and factual skin truths along with the dos and do not’s of skin care.

However, most people simply know her as “The Skin Nerd”. Check out her amazing website 

Till next week,

Shine Bright

Ali xx



Some days just run like clockwork, things fall magically into place and you feel aligned and connected.

But then there are days you feel out of sync and have a run of bad luck and on these days it can be hard to stay positive and get back of track but fear not as I have some tips to share.

Anyone who follows me knows I’m a huge fan of living a positive lifestyle. That does not mean avoidance and seeing the world through rose tinted glasses. It means that I feel, deal, heal and get real.

I believe that tough times make us stronger and ultimately no one gets through life without some struggle or hardship, no matter who you are. We will all experience grief, failure, disappointment, heartache and much more at some stage throughout our lives but its how you bounce back from these times and what you learn from the experience that determines the person you will become in the future.


Sometimes when we are in the middle of a crisis its hard to see a way out but things change every second, every minute of every day so I always find it comforting to think that no matter how bad you are feeling it will pass and things will get better.



Our breath is one of our most powerful tools especially when we don’t know what to do. It calms the nervous system, lowers our blood pressure and according to yogis and ayurvedic medicine practitioners our breath is the carrier or prana, which means energy! So help to move that energy around your body by breathing better.



No one needs help taking out the stick to beat ourselves with. Being unkind to ourselves is an all too familiar habit for a lot of people these days and does nothing but create a negative behavior pattern and lowers our energy and vibration. So use my golden rule: if you wouldn’t say it to your best friend then don’t say it to yourself.

[bctt tweet=”So use my golden rule: if you wouldn’t say it to your best friend then don’t say it to yourself.” username=”alicanavan”]



Without a doubt, gratitude is my superpower that keeps me sane. It helps to ground me and no matter how bad things are gratitude helps me to see the miracles even when they are hidden. Start your day each day with gratitude by saying ‘Thank You” upon waking. Then choose 3 things you are grateful for and why and really feel into that energy of appreciation. When you consciously start your day in that energy, anything is possible.

[bctt tweet=”Without a doubt, gratitude is my superpower that keeps me sane.” username=”alicanavan”]



No matter how much you want to give up you must keep going. Never throw in the towel no matter how much you feel like it. Life is a journey and what goes down must come up and vice versa. When you stop trying you become stagnant and life starts to happen to you as opposed to you happening to life. When this happens the victim mentality can creep in. I used to be a victim! Nothing was ever my fault. It was always someone else’s. If I didn’t book a big job it was my agents fault, my sisters, boyfriends or whoever was lucky enough to be standing to close to me at the time. If I missed work because I was out drinking it was the fault of the people I was with, not mine. So my message is just keep going and know that every morning is a chance to start again.

[bctt tweet=”No matter how much you want to give up you must keep going” username=”alicanavan”]