The Power of Positive Thinking?

The internet – a technological wonder and a source of great joy (ie endless videos of puppies), but on the flip side, the ideal place to find some of the worst parts of human nature. This has been proven true yet again in the past few days as I’ve seen people slating others on social media for their decision to make – or not make – New Year’s Resolutions. (Honestly, whether you decide to use the start of a new year to kickstart a life change is entirely up to you and really nobody else’s business).


As 2015 was drawing to a close and I found myself casting my mind back over the best year of my life, my mind naturally started to edge forward into 2016 and think about what it might bring. I dallied with the idea of making resolutions but as my willpower is non existent and I knew I would fall at the first hurdle, I opted out.


Then, last night, whilst I was laying in bed wide awake with pre-work worry it suddenly dawned on me. Rather than set myself resolutions, why not put the wheels in motion on something similar but less likely to fail. Why not start a lifestyle change?


I’ve mentioned before that at the beginning of 2015 I tweeted that I felt there was magic in the air, and that this premonition of mine came to fruition in the most wonderful ways, and last night as I lay there in the dark listening to the animals padding up and down the stairs and slumping onto their blankets to sleep, it dawned on me: Was 2015 destined to be amazing or did I unintentionally change the course of my 12-months simply with my mindset?


Did the sheer power of positive thinking and my unerring belief that 2015 was going to be incredible cause my behaviour and resulting actions to shift onto a trajectory which meant I couldn’t fail to be happy?


Well, there’s only one way to find out. I’m walking into 2016 with my heart open, my mind excited and my body ready to take on the world. I’ve got plans and promises I’m making to myself and I want to be able to sit here, a year from now, and write about this year with the joy I felt when I recapped 2015.


I’m not making resolutions, instead I’m going to embrace this year and live every single second. I want to BE and DO more than I’ve ever been or done before. I want to live every single second, to really feel like I exist and to see what adventures come as a result.


Basically, 2016 is going to be the year I get my shit together.


I’m going to pay off the small debt I’ve incurred as a result of a difficult couple of months. I’m going to take vitamins, eat better and move more. I’m going to make more effort to blog and vlog. I’m going to stop overthinking and worrying about every little thing. I’m going to run my home more smoothly. I’m going to become a better friend, family member and girlfriend.


I’m going to LIVE in the way 2015 taught me, but harder, better, stronger.


Can something as simple as a positive attitude and a hunger to make every day count really make a difference? I definitely think so and this year I plan to prove it.



Penny xx


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Shrinking Violet Inch Loss Kit {AD-GIFTED}

Shrinking Violet Inch Loss Kit  <font size="3">{AD-GIFTED}</font>

I don’t know if you’re like me but sometimes I read about a product and think to myself, “There’s no way that will work, it’s too good to be true!” and I have to be honest, that was how I felt when I first heard about Shrinking Violet’s Inch Loss Kit. But, happy to be a guinea pig and give you an honest review, I took up the opportunity to give it a whirl.


Before I went to Morocco a few years ago I had a weight loss wrap which had a similar premise to this, but saw me being slathered with oil and wrapped tightly in bandages (so tight all I could do was lay down on the treatment bench until someone came in to release me!) and that worked. I saw a loss of around 2 inches off my stomach and an inch on my arms and legs from that. But, can an ‘at home’ treatment ever live up to the professional ones you receive at a salon?


Can wearing a suit around the house really help you shed inches?





When you order your Shrinky Suit, it comes in a box with the lotion you have to apply, a measuring cup, a tape measure and some booklets for you to note down your measurements before and after, to see what loss you’ve had.


First of all, I whipped out the tape measure and got the stats for key parts of my body – waist, hips, arms, thighs etc – and noted them all down on the paper provided. After this, I hopped into the bath and applied the oil (a blend of ‘cellulite busting essential oils’) on to all the areas I wanted to target. My advice to you would be to definitely get into the bath or shower to apply this oil as it’s quite runny and you will 100% make a mess when applying!


After oiling yourself up and, if you’re anything like me, nearly slipping out of the bath and breaking your arm, you need to get on your Shrinky Suit.


IMG_2362Oh yes, you can’t help but look SEXY AS HELL when you wear this.


The basic science behind this suit is that with it’s elasticated cuffs it allows the body to heat up, raising your temperature by a couple of degrees and getting you sweating. If you wear it while exercising it’s said to be pretty effective, but I wore mine whilst doing some housework and making dinner – multi-tasking goddess that I am.


I kept it on for around 40-minutes and honestly didn’t feel like anything had happened. I was warm, but I’d been standing next to the oven whilst cooking so I put it down to that, however, after whipping it off and leaving it about an hour I gave myself a measure up and was surprised to see I’d lost an inch off my arms and thighs and 1.5 inches off of my stomach. ONE AND A HALF INCHES!


I couldn’t believe it – what I thought was possibly a gimmick designed for a modern age where we’re all so intensely body conscious turned out to be nothing of the sort. It genuinely works!


Although I still believe the best way to keep your weight at a healthy level is to eat good food and exercise, I do think I will continue to use the Shrinky Suit in the future as it seems like a really good way to encourage your body to release some of the toxins it’s holding on to. Plus, y’know, it’ll come in handy when I need to shoehorn myself into a slinky dress for a special occasion!


If you want to give the Shrinking Violet at home kit a whirl it’ll cost you £99.99 (price correct at time of publishing) which may seem a little pricey, but you’ll be set back around £60 minimum if you have the same treatment done in a salon, so it’s worth making the investment if you think it’s something you’re going to use more than once.


Also, you’ve seen how incredibly alluring the Shrinky Suit is, so it’s got to be worth paying the price for that alone, right?


Have you ever tried weight loss wraps before?


Penny xx


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British Airways: Discrimination, Lies & The Day They Risked My Life

I’ve held off on writing this for a few weeks as I wanted to see how things progressed with it, but having realised this week that I’m metaphorically banging my head against a brick wall, I decided the time to share this is now.


In early October we went on holiday and spent a week in Crete. It was a brilliant, restful week and I loved every second of it. Until the journey home that is. Flying out there we travelled with Easyjet, coming home we flew with British Airways.


As I have a nut allergy (for which I have to carry antihistamines and an Epipen with me at all times) whenever I board a plane I tell the cabin crew. On every flight I’ve ever been on before they have then made an announcement over the tannoy that says something like this:


“Ladies and gentlemen, we have a passenger on board today with a severe nut allergy so we will not be serving any nut products on this flight. We would request that, if you have brought your own nuts on board today, or any items that contain nuts, you do not open them.”


I’ve never had an issue with this. Cabin crew and passengers are respectful and understanding of the fact that a nut allergy is a serious medical condition – it’s not a case of feeling slightly unwell, or getting a stomach ache; a nut allergy can kill.


So, there we were, looking forward to flying British Airways for the first time. I board the plane and inform the cabin crew of my allergy, as usual. They take my boarding pass so they know what seat I’m in and I settle down for the 4-hours of soaring in the clouds.


Then, the head of the cabin crew comes over to me. The conversation went a little like this…


HIM: “Hello madam, I understand you have a nut allergy?”

ME: “Yes”

HIM: “How serious is it?”

ME: “Quite serious; airborne affects me” (meaning if people around me are eating them, just the nut being in the air can cause a reaction)

HIM: “I see. Did you fly out here with us?”

ME: “No, we flew Easyjet”

HIM: “And what did they do?”

ME: “They made an announcement, suspended the sale of nut products and requested passengers don’t eat their own”

HIM: “We don’t do that”

ME: “Pardon?”

HIM: “We don’t do that. We don’t stop people eating nuts if they want to”

ME: “Oh. I react to airborne though”

HIM: “Do you have an Epipen?”

ME: “Yes”

HIM: (patronisingly) “So do I. That means we have two!”

ME: (silence)

HIM: “We served nuts on the plane coming out here so surely if your allergy was that bad you would have had a reaction by now, don’t you think?”

ME: (shocked) “Well… I don’t know…”

HIM: “Well, we will continue to sell nuts on this flight as we don’t want to stop passengers that want to eat nuts from having them. Is that ok?”

ME: “I guess so”


I was utterly shocked but as this plane was the only way of getting back to the UK, I didn’t feel I had any choice. Either get off the plane and be stranded in another country, or stay on the plane and hope nobody ate any nuts during the flight.


Fast forward to us cruising in the air and the trolley comes around with refreshments. Imagine my dismay when I see the cabin crew handing a complementary packet of nuts to EVERY SINGLE PASSENGER on the flight. They actually tried to hand one to me and Ben. We both, obviously, declined and when Ben said, “She’s got a nut allergy, you know this!” they laughed and said, “What, do you both have one?!” to which Ben replied that no, we don’t both have one but he can’t eat them around me.


So they know I have a nut allergy, yet they go out of their way to serve them to every single passenger. How they thought that was ok I have no idea.


Within a few minutes my lips started to swell up and my throat began to itch. I can honestly say, being 36,000 feet in the air and feeling the start of an allergy attack was one of the most terrifying things that has ever happened to me. Ben saw my face change and I saw the panic in his expression. I took some antihistamines and prayed it didn’t progress because if it got worse, the chance of me getting to a hospital before it took over my body completely was impossible.


Thankfully, this attack proved to be a small one and the antihistamines took the edge off of it, although I could still feel the affects of the airborne nut traces – sore, tingly and swollen lips, a sore and itchy throat, and a shortness of breath.


Since this happened, I have had conversations on Twitter with British Airways and they have refused to accept they put me in a position whereby my life was in danger. In fact, the following tweet they sent to another individual very much sums up their overall attitude:




So there you have it – they won’t discriminate against passengers who want to eat nuts, but they will discriminate against those who have a life-threatening medical condition.


As they showed so little interest in discussing this with me on Twitter I decided to make a formal complaint via their website. At this point, having learnt how little regard they have for their customers, it probably won’t surprise you to know that having received no reply to this I contacted them for an update only to be told that they have ‘lost’ it. How convenient.


Following all of this, you can imagine my anger when my attention was drawn to an article in a national newspaper this week in which the question of banning nuts on flights in order to safeguard the lives of those who have an allergy was raised (bearing in mind, there have been cases of individuals with allergies becoming very ill and even dying on flights). The national newspaper contacted British Airways who responded with the following statement:


“We do our best to accommodate the needs of all our customers, including those with food allergies. We do not serve peanuts as snacks, or include them in our meals and we do not sell peanuts on board our aircraft. We advise customers with peanut allergies to inform our cabin crew of their condition, and let them know if they are carrying emergency medication. Our crew are happy to ask customers in the vicinity to refrain from eating nut products.”


This is an outright lie.

(edit: somebody has just made a very good point to me – in the quote above, BA reference peanuts specifically, so perhaps this statement is less lie, more a clever wording of the truth?)


So, British Airways, you put my life in danger, you discriminated against a well-known life-or-death medical condition, you ‘lost’ my complaint and then you lied to the national press about your policies.


Having seen your true colours and how little regard you have for the lives of your passengers, I know I will never be flying British Airways again – instead I’ll use an airline who safeguards those who travel with them.


UPDATE: Read the second and final instalment of this story – their response.


Penny xx


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My Top Healthy Lifestyle Tips! {AD-SPONSORED}

My Top Healthy Lifestyle Tips!  <font size="3">{AD-SPONSORED}</font>

Living a healthy lifestyle is so important if you want to live a long, happy life. You might be able to get away with being a little carefree with what you do while you’re young, but you won’t be able to get away with it forever. May as well make some healthy habits now before it’s too late! Here are my top healthy lifestyle tips:


Focus on Your Sleeping Pattern
When you’re well rested, you should wake up at the same time every morning without an alarm. The only way you can do this is to get yourself into a routine. Go to bed at the same time every night, and get up at the same time every day. After a while of doing this, your body will get into a routine. Make sure you’re winding down before bed, so you get a good quality sleep. Don’t have electronics on or around you, and stay away from caffeine!


Drink Plenty of Water
Water is the best thing for us; it’s zero calories, flushes out toxins, and keeps us energised. Our bodies are made up mostly of water, so it makes sense to make this our primary drink! Have it plain, or add fruit to make it tastier if you prefer. Just don’t add sugary squash.


Get Active Where Possible
Try to be active where possible. If you can take up a regular exercise that you enjoy, then do so. If you can take the stairs rather than the lift, then do that. Find new ways to get active and you’ll be so much healthier – little things make all the difference!


sdsds(image source)


Avoid Bad Habits
Bad habits come in many shapes and sizes. You might have trouble sleeping. Eat too much/too little. Take drugs. Smoke. There are lots of things we can do to upset our bodies and compromise our health. Make sure you’re avoiding bad habits. If you smoke, for instance, start using an electronic cigarette to help you quit. There are support groups where you need them!


Eat Naturally Most of the Time
9 out of 10 of your meals should be full of healthy, natural foods. If you eat naturally most of the time, your body and mood will reflect this. You’ll look better and feel so much better. Filling our bodies with processed junk is a bad way to live. Allow a treat every once in a while, but keep it in moderation. Make sure you’re nourishing your body as best you can.


Take Time to Relax
Take time to yourself to relax and de-stress. Stress can be just as bad for us as some illnesses! Have a hot bath, read a book. See your friends and family. Go for a walk, take deep breaths. Do what you need to do to combat that stress and feel better!


Use these lifestyle tips and you’ll feel healthier in no time. You’ll look better, live longer, and people will notice. Let me know how these tips worked for you below! Come back for more soon!


Penny xx


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Living With A Bicornuate Uterus – An Update

Now I’m back into blogger mode and have fallen in love with this little ol’ website of mine again, I’ve been thinking about it’s roots and how it began and have been excited about getting it back onto an even keel and back into a lifestyle-focussed groove again.


As seems to happen with so many of the bloggers I follow, there is a pressure on us to be ‘more’ and ‘better’ and when we find we aren’t becoming millionaire superstar-mega-bloggers, quite often we are left thinking that perhaps we’re wasting our time as we’re clearly not that good.


I had all these thoughts and came close to jacking the whole thing in several times, but it was reminiscing on the birth of this online space – back when it was LilliesandLove – that made me realise all the pressure I felt was coming from within. I’d lost sight of my blog and myself in a mist of uncertainty and I had nobody to blame but myself and my own lack of self esteem.


With this realisation and the subsequent ear-bashing I gave myself, A Penny For Them marches on towards the future with it’s anchor set well and truly in the ‘lifestyle’ category and I am happy for it to be whatever it will be. I don’t blog for money, I don’t blog for fame – I blog because I love writing and I want to leave a footprint of myself that can be accessed by future generations. The thought of my grandchildren or great-grandchildren (hey kiddos!) reading this and being able to know me even though I’m (most likely) not around is one that warms the cockles of my heart.


As well as writing for the future mini-me’s to come, this blog has also been there with me through the good, the bad and the downright ugly times. It’s seen me admit my extensive debts and battle my way out of them, it’s seen relationships breakdown and it’s seen me fall in love. And, most notably, it was there with me at one of the lowest, most heart-breaking periods of my life – when I found out I have something wrong with my womb.


For those of you who are relatively new to A Penny For Them, you may not know, but in 2012, after months of investigations, swabs, doctors rummaging around in areas of my body that aren’t designed for rummaging, and scans, I was given the news that I have something called a Bicornuate Uterus, and I have the most severe form, a ‘complete split’.


This means, in basic terms, that my womb is split in half all the way down. Having this diagnosis was a relief for me in one sense as it explained issues I’ve had since I was a teenager (and continue to have now), and I had the obvious worries that my symptoms were caused by something more serious, but following the relief at the non-life-threatening nature of the condition, there was complete and utter heartbreak as I discovered having children is going to be difficult for me.


I wrote about it in more detail here and here but to cut a long story short: I can get pregnant without issues, all of my bits and pieces work fine, but because my womb is split in half down the middle, keeping a baby alive long enough for it to have a chance at life is going to be problematic. I’ve been told I’ll definitely have multiple miscarriages and that there is a chance that having children at all might be out of the question.


When I first found out, I was upset as you could imagine. I told everyone I was fine and carried on with life but, in reality, I was definitely not fine. It was constantly on my mind whether awake or asleep, I cried endless tears, and I felt I’d lost my value as a woman. Biologically, if we take it back to science only, a females job is to have babies and if I can’t do that, then surely my existence is pointless? At least that’s how I saw it. I felt worthless and empty.


I’d see friends of mine announcing pregnancies, women in the street with baby bumps, and parents looking fraught with screaming toddlers and my heart would ache. It was an actual physical pain – heartbreak.


Although I wrote about it on here, on a day-to-day basis I’d laugh it off and make jokes about it. I’d tell people I preferred puppies to children anyway so didn’t care, or I’d say I was too clumsy or stupid to be a mother and it was natural selection ensuring I didn’t pass down my genes. I laughed it off, I pretended I didn’t care, and almost everyone believed me.


It was 9-months after my diagnosis (ironically) that I had a mini meltdown. Nothing big happened, I just suddenly couldn’t keep it in anymore and I cried. I cried big, heavy tears with sobs that made my entire body hurt until I was exhausted and fell in to bed to sleep. Then I woke up the next day and I carried on.


But somehow, with the rising of the sun that day, I found I had a new outlook. It was as if the cloud had lifted and suddenly I could look at the situation with new clarity.


Today, as I type this now, of course I’m still sad that this is my reality, but I know there are much worse realities I could be living, and I no longer cry like I used to. The happiness for my friends and family when I see their pregnancy or baby updates is no longer tinged with a faint feeling of sadness in the background. I can look at the life that is laid out for me and know that although it’s not ideal, in the grand scheme of things it’s not that bad a hand to have been dealt.


Of course, there is a part of me that fears for Future Penny when I come to a point I decide I want to start a family. But I also know that I’m incredibly lucky – a lot of women don’t find out they have this condition until they’ve already experienced several miscarriages and doctors decide to investigate. They try for and lose babies and experience that pain before they find out. I honestly, truly believe I’m lucky to be pre-warned; I know what the road ahead involves and I can steel myself for it; that has got to be a good thing.


It’s also encouraged me to think about the other options that are out there – adoption, surrogacy, fostering. Not being able to carry your own baby isn’t the end of the world although I know from first-hand experience that it can certainly feel like it when you first find out.


I’ve also been thinking about egg donors. There are so many women in the world who cannot have their own children for whatever reason – donating your eggs could grant their biggest wish and, considering they go to waste every month, it seems to me to be such an amazing gift to be able to give someone. I’ve been thinking about doing this for some time, but haven’t made a decision yet; I think it’s something that needs long and careful consideration before you do anything (and it should only be done via the right channels of course!)


I guess the point of this post is just to update you, as I haven’t really spoken about the issue since the early days when I was so sad. I no longer hurt like I used to, I no longer cry when I think about it, and I no longer worry for the future. What will be will be, and life has a funny way of working out. It’ll just be another chapter in the story of my life – a story that will continue right here.



Penny xx


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NB. There really isn’t a huge amount of information available about this condition, so I hope if you’re somebody reading this who is affected by it, this post has gone some way to showing you that you’re not alone.




A Penny For Them uses affiliate links occasionally. Affiliate links means that sometimes if you click through to a website and register or purchase something, I get a commission from that sale at no extra cost to you. However, rest assured that all opinions and reviews are 100% honest, open and entirely my own.