Month: August 2012

Guest Post – John O’Connor

Hey lovely readers!

Today I have something a little different for you. A couple of weeks ago I was emailed by a fellow blogger about raising awareness for hearing loss and the effects that poor health can have on hearing loss. Although this is a slight departure from what I normally blog about, it is a topic close to my heart as both of my grandfathers are very hard of hearing. I hope you get something from reading this informative post, I am sure many of you have someone who suffers from hearing loss in your family.

John writes a blog which highlights issues surrounding hearing, if you’re interested in this topic I recommend a read.

Lifestyle Changes Can Prevent Hearing Loss

Many people assume they will one day need help in the hearing department. The reason for this is that many people associate aging with hearing loss. While this is partly true, it is not the only factor that contributes to hearing loss. Many people who experience some type of hearing loss could have prevented it at a younger age, but because so many people do not know they can actually prevent something that they consider a definite. Not everyone can prevent hearing loss that does come with age, but many people can prevent hearing loss that they are inflicting upon themselves by not living a healthy lifestyle.

Living a healthy lifestyle is one of the best ways people can prevent hearing loss. In fact, a healthy lifestyle is such a good way to prevent hearing loss that more people should take note of what small changes they can make in their own lives and implement them immediately. Many people who experience hearing loss experience it due to poor choices they made when they were younger. The things people do and the things they put into their bodies are directly related to their hearing loss. The use of a hearing aid is an option to help people who currently are affected by hearing loss while following the tips below are ways to help prevent and protect yourself from hearing loss.

Loud Noise

One healthy lifestyle change people can make to prevent hearing loss is to wear ear protection when they work with loud noises. People who do not work in factories or with loud equipment might think this bit of information does not apply to them, but it does. Loud equipment that is damaging to the ears is not found only in factories. People who work on farms, on oil rigs, and who simply mow their own lawns need to wear earplugs or earmuffs. Furthermore, people who do simple things at home such as saw wood for the fireplace with a chain saw should wear earplugs. Too much exposure to these types of noises without earplugs could mean hearing problems later in life.

Too Much Music

Many people love to put their earphones in their ears and turn up their iPods to a level that’s so loud they are immediately motivated to get to working out, cleaning up, or doing whatever else. However, these people don’t seem to realize that the level of their music is making their eardrums vibrate uncontrollably, which is damaging to the eardrums. This will cause hearing loss. Turn down the music to save hearing.

A Poor Diet

When people eat food that isn’t good for them, it can affect their hearing negatively. Most people might not understand this because, frankly, what does hearing have to do with dessert? The answer is a simple one: People who eat a poor diet are more likely to suffer from diabetes. People who suffer from diabetes are twice as likely as people who do not suffer from diabetes to experience hearing loss. People who don’t necessarily eat the healthiest foods on the menu should go ahead and make that change now.

Smoking

Making the decision to smoke is a bad one no matter how people look at it. It’s the number one cause of lung cancer, it kills people, it makes them smell bad, it ruins their teeth and skin, and their secondhand smoke is dangerous to everyone around them. Unfortunately, this is not enough to make people quit smoking. Smoking, however, is a cause of hearing loss. Additionally, people who are exposed to secondhand smoke are as much as 70 percent more likely to experience hearing loss later in life than people who are not exposed to secondhand smoke.

Healthy lifestyle changes are easy to make for those who want to save their hearing. While hearing loss cannot be completely prevented, people who do not lose their hearing due to old age can prevent it. There are so many benefits to living a healthy lifestyle that it is simply amazing that more people are not willing to stop making poor lifestyle choices and start making good ones. All it takes is one small change to prevent hearing loss.

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Almost There.

Goodness has this been a really difficult week! The weather has gone from mediocre to pretty damn awful – the skies are permanently gray, the temperatures are those of Autumn and it rains every day, sometimes in torrents. The children this week are a particularly difficult bunch. They seem completely unable to think for themselves and are pretty useless at listening which means we (the play workers) spend our day repeating ourselves and doing half of their work for them so we’re all feeling a little worse for wear. And I have a six-day week…

It’s quite exciting in a way but at the same time I wish I could move it forward a week: a few of the girls my sister works with at the cafe can’t work on Sunday so her boss asked her if I’d be interested in filling in (she knows me now – I spend enough time in there haha!). I figured it would be fun to see what goes on behind the scenes plus you never know, it could lead to a job opening in a few months/a year when I’ll hopefully be a little better on the fatigue front. I love that cafe so I’m definitely more than willing to help out!

Today was a really really long day, especially as the cold and rain meant we had to stay inside for most of the day. My wrists hurt from cutting out so many tiny cardboard shapes for the children’s cardboard Victorian shops and houses. They’re very sweet creations but my gosh do they create a lot of work for me!

I spent most of the day watching the clock and hoping for 4pm to swing round as fast as possible. Tomorrow is my last day and whilst, as I said in my post the other day, I’ve enjoyed my work and it has brought a lot to my summer, I am sincerely looking forward to the end of it and to having a couple of free weeks. Hallelujah 😉

As you may have seen on Twitter/Instagram earlier today, while I was out at work a huge package arrived for me, full of… Books! They are for my course this semester but despite being assigned books I am really looking forward to reading them, several of them have been on my to-read list for a while and lots of them look really good. I still have another massive order which should arrive in the next few days.

 

I’m starting with Herman Melville’s Moby Dick for my American Literature module which I have wanted to read for a long time and I have high hopes for. Has anyone else read it?

I spent the afternoon alternating between being curled up on the sofa with my mum and sister watching Celebrity MasterChef, and being curled up in bed reading my new (and rather intense looking!) copy of Moby Dick.

Dinner was just what I needed, my kind of comfort food:

 

Of course my love of pasta is rivaled only by my love of courgettes with chili and garlic! So so good and exactly the thing to make me feel a little warmer inside. I just can’t quite believe we’re already having to say goodbye to the summer…

Anyway I’m off to bed as I need to be reasonably energised tomorrow morning for my last day of work. So so relieved.

What has your week been like? Long or more relaxing?
What are you reading at the moment?

This Week(end) #1.

Okay I know it’s Tuesday but I wanted to write this post anyway! Those of you who follow me on twitter may have noticed that I have started instagramming…

On Saturday I was in town with my parents and out of the blue my mum suggested that we go check out the phone shop as my phone contract expired about 4 months ago (oops) and I was due an upgrade. Whilst in there we decided we may as well sort it all out then and I left the shop with a brand new smart phone! Pretty exciting for me, I feel like I’m finally entering the land of technology as my old phone had no internet capacity.

After finally figuring out how to use it – I’m not the most tech-savvy person – one of the first things I did was download the Instagram app. I’ve been wanting it for ages as I love the way the photos look and it’s nice to have the ability to snap photos when I’m out and about without hauling my DSLR around. So I thought I’d start sharing what I’ve been doing (and photographing all week) in a post each weekend, let me know what you think!

Poppy curled up on my bed | Pre-dinner food – bread with olive oil and balsamic to dip | Lemon and basil roast chicken for dinner

My new reading corner in the study window | Morning weetabix | My mother’s lovely flowers

Post-church Sunday latte | Out and about in town with my gorgeous Tom | Crayfish noodle salad at Eat

Plates decorated by the children at work | Monday name badge | Ready for the gym

Obviously as I only got my phone on Saturday I don’t have many photos for you but I will have another Instagram post up for you on Sunday with photos to sum up my week 🙂 I love constantly taking photos so I hope you like these posts!

If you have Instagram too then you call follow me @loveliveandlearn to see my photos as I post them.

What have you been up to this week?

Sunday Pub Grub.

Yesterday evening my Granddad came over and we drove to a lovely pub in the countryside called The Plough. The premise of the meal was mainly to celebrate my sister’s results with him, as well as my end of year results from earlier in the summer and it was really nice to see him. The pub is really light and open, with a stylish and comfortable decor, it’s definitely the ideal place for a nice relaxing informal meal.

 

My Granddad, my dad, me and my sister, Alice, (my mum took the photo). It’s always really nice to get the family together and spend a few hours chatting and enjoying each others’ company.

As none of us fancied a full three-course meal on a Sunday evening, we went for a sharing platter to start with:

 

This is the Mediterranean Mezze which was made up of beetroot & walnut houmous, tzatziki, fregola, salted lemon & feta salad, dukkah, and stone baked pitta bread. We all loved it so much, especially the houmous, that we asked the waiter for another plate of pitta so that we could finish it all off!

 

For my main I chose the Linguini which included crab, chorizo, chilli, spring onion, and tomato. It was absolutely delicious and one thing that was excellent is that you could choose to have a smaller portion which is great for me as I always find restaurant portions enormous.

Lastly, dessert…

 

By this point I was pretty full but as I’m not often one to turn down a sweet treat my dad and I opted to share. We went for three different flavours of ice cream: coconut and chocolate, tiramisu and amaretto. So so tasty.

The pub atmosphere was relaxing, the company was lovely and the food was pretty good; all in all we had a great evening and it was a really pleasant way to end the weekend.

What did you get up to this weekend?
Have you got anything planned for this week?


Working Life, Reflections.

As I have now completed three full weeks of work and just have one week left to get through I felt like having a look at what working has been like this summer and where my condition is at the moment.

Although I knew it would be hard work, I didn’t really know how working 8 hour days, five days a week for four weeks would actually affect me. It’s been an interesting experience and I’m really pleased that I decided to do the work as now I know what I’m capable of and I have an idea of what would push me too far into exhaustion.

As I said on Wednesday, I really enjoy my job. I’ve always liked working with children; I used to volunteer at my old dance school as a teaching assistant, I did work experience in a nursery and I’ve always done a fair amount of babysitting. I find that helping children to develop their ability and improve their skills just makes me feel so satisfied, it’s a really fulfilling position as you feel as though you’ve made just a little bit of difference in their lives.

In case you’ve missed the posts in which I mentioned it, this holiday scheme is centred around arts and crafts activities. I work with the guy who runs the programme, and then three other girls around my age so it’s nice to have someone with whom you share interests to talk to in between chatting away with the children.

What’s always funny is watching the children interact, last week we had a couple of the most adorable little five-year-old girls you’ve ever seen and as best friends they did everything together. One lunch we asked them what they were playing to which one replied “I’m the mummy and she’s the baby and I’ve got 185 babies. It takes a really really long time to get all of them across the road!” It was all we could do to keep ourselves from falling about laughing. Children are hilarious.

Another of my favourite aspects of my job is when the children make you things as a present. Here are two I was given this week:

On the left: a little handmade envelope with a lovely message inside, on the right: apparently it’s a cross between a visor and a necklace… Either way it’s rather sweet!

On a slightly more serious note, I want to examine the way I feel physically after all of this. I’m not going to lie, I’m absolutely exhausted by about 11am on most days, it takes up a huge proportion of my energy just to act positive, bouncy and smiley for the remainder of the day. As well as walking around helping all the children, I play lots of games with them, we have to set everything up, and there’s a lot of clearing up and washing up to do each day. My hips ache for the first time in a while, whereas it’s usually mostly my back that pains me. My head hurts almost constantly and me knees won’t stop groaning at me.

It’s difficult but I’m so so proud of myself for pushing through it and managing to work just like any other able-bodied students. I’m planning to save as much of my earnings as possible  for the ever-nearing future.

Despite the fact that it’s tough work and I’m feeling a little worse for wear, I’m really glad I decided to work. Plus I get a couple of weeks off after I finish before I start my new term, I cannot wait to have a bit more time to relax and recuperate!

Have you ever worked with children?
What about your work makes you feel fulfilled?

Celebrations – Sisterly Pride.

If you’re wondering where I was last night the answer is out celebrating. Celebrating what? My talented little sister’s fantastic GCSE results (for my non-English readers these are exams you take aged 16).

She did really really well, especially with the ridiculous situation with students being marked down. The best bit of all? In her favourite and most inspiring subject, Art, she achieved 100% overall! I clearly have an artistic genius for a sister. Can you tell I’m rather proud?

So of course when we got the great news my parents immediately suggested we go out for dinner to celebrate. My sister is a big fan of Japanese, Chinese and Thai food so she went for Wagamama, a lovely restaurant with a Japanese-inspired menu. It’s a clean, modern looking restaurant with a menu full of amazing food. It’s one of those places where I can’t help but always order the same thing, despite the huge variety on the menu. I can’t help it, I love the dish! (I will be more adventurous next time, I swear!)

I started the evening off with a glass of apple, mint, celery and lime juice. It was so refreshing and had a really interesting flavour – there was definitely a strong taste of celery but the overall taste was sweet with a lovely hit of lime.

For my main, my favourite dish: yasai chilli men. A dish of “stir-fried tofu, courgettes, red onions, peppers, mushrooms and mangetout in a spicy tomato chilli men sauce, served on whole wheat noodles”. So, so delicious!

Tom joined us for the meal, we hadn’t seen each other in over two weeks as he’s been away on holiday in Turkey. His main looked really good too, he went for the mandarin and sesame chicken salad. It was a salad of “marinated chicken with mixed leaves, mandarin, coriander, red and spring onions, mangetout and cashew nuts with a sesame, mandarin, thai basil and mint dressing. garnished with sesame seeds”.

Finally Alice’s main: raisukaree, a curry of “tender marinated chicken breast or prawns stir-fried in a coconut and lime curry sauce with mangetout, peppers, red and spring onions, fresh ginger and garlic. Served with rice and garnished with mixed sesame seeds, red chillies, coriander and lime”. She thoroughly enjoyed her dish too, the sauce smelt fantastic.

Although I was stuffed by the end of the meal I couldn’t go without dessert as Wagamama does what is possibly my favourite ice cream dish…

Coconut reika. It is made up of “three scoops of dairy coconut ice cream topped with a fresh, tangy mango sauce and toasted coconut flakes” and it’s just so so moreish. I adore coconut flavoured desserts and the mango sauce is delicious!

It was a really enjoyable way to go out and celebrate my sister’s achievement and spend some quality time together.

Do you enjoy Japanese food?
What is your favourite type of cuisine?
Any plans for the weekend?

What I Ate Wednesday No.42

Hello lovely readers,

I can’t believe another Wednesday has come round again! I’m shattered and sincerely ready for the weekend, I need some time off to relax and spend time unwinding. This week is more difficult than last as the people I’m working with are different and aren’t as sociable so there is not much conversation to be had. The children are older on average too and so are more demanding because they want more. I still love it but I’ll be glad when this week is over.

Of course today is time for another round of WIAW thanks to the lovely Jenn at Peas and Crayons.

Today started off feeling like summer, we had sunshine this morning. But as I discovered throughout the day from being sat outside watching children, there was a lot of wind which kept us nippy and later brought rain.

7am. I start my day fairly early compared to normal (at least normal for someone who wakes up with about 50% energy levels anyway!) and go down to the kitchen to prep my lunch and have my breakfast.

Breakfast has always been my favourite meal of the day, and it is always going to be made better by the addition of fresh raspberries. Each morning I eat my bowl of weetabix – variety is clearly not always the spice of life – with either the newspaper, the news supplements (this morning I read the arts review) or a magazine. It’s my little 15 minutes of quiet time to wake myself up each day.

8.40pm. I’m really lucky in that the place I work at is pretty close to my house so it doesn’t take me particularly long to get to work each morning. I’m certainly glad that I don’t have to drive as I’m really not a fan of driving. The morning is always fun, we play games with them as they arrive, and we make lots of nice things, the children always make my smile.

12.30pm. Lunchtime! By this point I am seriously looking forward to the end of the day. With the fatigue I experience daily, early morning is the worst time for me, for about an hour, and then mid-morning to noon is my best time for energy levels. If I don’t do much in the morning then my energy levels can still be fairly good by about 4pm but work really tires me out.

My salad was the usual box of goodness: bulgur wheat, sun-dried tomato chicken breast, cucumber, radishes and rocket. Pretty delicious in my opinion.

12.45pm. After lunch has been eaten with the children it’s off outside for some playtime. I like playtime, although we don’t get a break from the children as we have to watch them, we don’t have to be making things, helping them with their stuff, washing up, cleaning up etc. We only have to supervise them and entertain those that don’t want to play with the others. They are a funny bunch sometimes 😛

1.30pm. Back to work, the afternoon is usually spent making something for a new project, a couple of session of games and a lot of clearing up. By the time the end of the day rolls around I am shattered and definitely ready to drop down onto my bed to take a nap. When the last child has left, whilst they are lovely and bring so much joy throughout the day, I often feel like doing a little victory dance!

3.45pm. Time to go home, I practically stumble home with sore hips and sore back but a happy smile. I might sound like I’m moaning but really I love my job, it’s the best thing I can think of as summer work to get paid for. Usually when I get home, I pour myself a glass of juice (I need my sugar kick to bring back my energy levels!) and lately I’ve been having a slice of wholemeal toast with marmite. I just feel more like savoury than sweet for some rather unusual reason. I’m afraid I don’t have a photo, I was just way too hungry.

6.30pm. I couldn’t make up my mind about whether to go to the gym or not but in the end I decided against it and instead opted for a 20 minute cycle at a quick pace to get my heart rate up. It felt good to be outside and feel the wind in a good way!

7.30pm. One of the best bits of today – dinner. My mum has been away in France for the past few days visiting her grandparents and it’s always a difficult visit, equally my dad and I have been working today so we were all tired and seeking comfort. Dinner was an obvious choice:

Spaghetti bolognaise. This has been one of my favourite meals since I was a little girl and it still warms my belly and feels like a hug at the end of a difficult day. The lettuce bed might be far from the traditional Italian dish and lots of people would find it a bit off-putting but I like it as a way to squeeze in some more veg.

Anyway I’m off to bed as it’s late and I wish I could have managed to be in bed by 10pm tonight!

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten lately?
What food comforts you best after a long day?